Many perceive being wheelchair-bound a bit like personal defeat – as though we’re succumbing to age or pain, or giving up on living life as an active and lively person. But this is a gross misconception. In fact, in the case of some conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, the right wheelchair can give you back the freedom that a disease, injury or other condition took away from you. Rheumatoid arthritis is often lumped together under the broad label of arthritis, but this is an inaccurate generalization.
Unlike osteoarthritis, oftentimes a result of the gradual onset of age, rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive and chronic auto-immune condition, which, though mostly focused between the age groups of 40 and 70, has been known to show up in teenagers as well. The condition is characterized by the release of antibodies which chip away at tissue and joints, the result of which can be varying degrees of pain and weakness anywhere from your hips, knees, wrists, shoulders, and so on. While with early diagnoses and treatment, there has been considerable success in mitigating the effects of rheumatoid arthritis, flare-ups can still make something as simple as walking a few paces an excruciating chore.
Walkers and canes may still give you some mobility, but have been proven to do more damage than good, since they can put pressure on fragile joints like the wrists and shoulders. This is where a wheelchair can actually be the answer – one that both gives you pain relief, as well as letting you move about your home and outdoors without resigning yourself to being bedridden. Though manual wheelchairs still require muscle-power you might be unable to muster with rheumatoid arthritis, power wheelchairs let you maneuver yourself with the simple touch of a joystick. Here are our top picks of wheelchairs for rheumatoid arthritis.
Foldawheel PW-1000XL Power Chair
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The great thing about a good electric or motorized wheelchair is that just the push of a joystick can maneuver you wherever you need to go, without exerting too much effort or putting any debilitating pressure on your aching or sore joints. Our top pick fits right into this category, with an easily accessible joystick attached to the armrest – you can specify whether you are right- or left-handed prior to receiving your order – allowing you to steer through your home, the mall and even some outdoor spaces. Heavy-duty tires, particularly the bulkier 10 inch rear tires as well as the 7 inch front wheels, give you better stability and support outdoors, while spring suspension makes the ride less bumpy.
As the name suggests, this is a foldable wheelchair, which improves its versatility greatly, since it doesn’t just limit you to places you can roll to on the unit. Folding into a compact shape you can stow into your car’s trunk, and even check in for travel, the wheelchair comes with its own weather-proof storage bag. Other flexible features include the adjustable armrest height as well as foldable footrest – you get to rest your sore and aching joints without hampering your mobility.
At full charge (which takes about 4 hours), you can travel a maximum range of 8 miles (16 if you opt for an additional battery), a powerful brushless motor and aircraft-grade aluminum alloy frame making this a durable and resilient chair to help you rest and recover. Armrest width clocks in at 19 inches, with padded cushion seating of 18 inches and a weight capacity capable of holding up to 330 pounds.
KEN’S BUDGET PICK
BEIZ Folding Power Wheelchair
Resembling a self-propelled manual wheelchair with its larger rear wheels, this budget wheelchair does not skimp on features. Intuitive controls and a programmable joystick make for one-handed operation not just when maneuvering the wheelchair, but also for things like automatically removing the footrest out of the way so you can get off the chair. Lightweight and foldable, with removable elements like the arm and foot-rests, this wheelchair is also highly portable, an important feature many electric-powered wheelchairs often compromise on.
With a high and padded backrest to give the adequate support to people of all heights, the flip up feature is great for tilting the backrest and pushing up the footrests so you can relax in a reclining position when you need a break, and take the pressure off your body. Thanks to the large, rugged rear wheels, the wheelchair can handle inclines of up to 8 inches, and has a maximum range of roughly 12 miles and a weight capacity of over 275 pounds. The seat, with the same sponge fill and breathable net upholstery as the backrest, is almost 18 inches wide.
Golden Technologies GP162 LiteRider PTC 162
There’s plenty to love about this stadium-style seat wheelchair, starting with how cute and cozy it looks. Though not coming off quite as clinical as wheelchairs sometimes appear, the compact and cushiony LiteRider still has an impressive weight capacity of 300 pounds, and disassembles into three portable parts you can transport by car, and even check in for air travel.
One of the features unique to this chair compared to our other contenders is the storage basket tucked under the seat – a standard wheelchair pouch is often not roomy enough to carry things with us, and if we’re suffering rheumatoid arthritis carrying or holding on to objects can become difficult over time, making this easy storage option we can take with us a plus in our books. Quick and easy to put together and take apart, the responsive joystick gives you the right speed and maneuverability you would need to move around and get things done at the pace you desire, unhampered by flare-ups. The chair also features a sturdy footrest, its size making it a great indoor wheelchair, since it can easily maneuver around tight corners and through narrow doors and spaces with a turning radius of 26 inches.
EZ Lite Cruiser – Standard Model
Incredibly lightweight at only 50 pounds, the Cruiser still has a weight capacity of over 260 pounds, the lightweight aluminum alloy structure making it both highly portable and maneuverable but also tough and durable. Powered by brushless motor to give you a range of over 10 miles (per battery) , the joystick – as with all units on this list mountable on either your right or left – lets you steer yourself all around your house and other indoor spaces, the compact design and small turning radius of 33 inches allowing you to navigate narrow doors and tight corners with no difficulty. The chair folds up neatly into a compact and portable unit that’ll fit just fine into the back of a car, with conveniently located carry-handles to let you easily transport it. 8 inch rubberized rear wheels gives you pretty good stability, the armrest width about 18 inches and plenty roomy, as well as a footrest to keep the pressure off your knees and ankles.
- Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rheumatoid-arthritis/home/ovc-20197388
- Wheelchair88.com: https://www.wheelchair88.com/
- Golden Technologies: https://www.goldentech.com/